Swampscott residents concerned proposed development will disrupt quiet neighborhood

SWAMPSCOTT — At the end of Archer Street, the concrete ends, houses give way to trees, and a golden retriever looks out a nearby window, watching a squirrel with eagerness. It’s quiet. 

A proposal to develop the wooded land between Archer Street, Eureka Avenue and Foster Road into senior housing has been in the works for several years. DiGiorgio and Messina Construction and P & K Funding Trust, the legal title holder, plan to build a 55-and-older residential area with up to 15 condominiums and two-story, single-family residences.

On March 9, the Planning Board is expected to reconvene to deliberate and vote on the subdivision plan, after the topic was continued at last week’s meeting, according to Marzie Galazka, director of community and economic development. 

With the public comment period having ended, residents are concerned the development will go forward and ruin the neighborhood’s quiet atmosphere. 

“To put that many units up there is terrible. It’s just not right for the area,” said Laurie Pape, who has lived at 31 Eureka Ave. since 2005.

“This area, it’s a dead end and it’s quiet. That’s why half of us live here,” she said. “It’s going to be inundated with traffic.”

Pape and her husband, Kevin, said they hope the Planning Board accepts the proposal to modify the development plan and put the entrance to the housing facility off Foster Road, rather than elsewhere.

Kevin Pape said he is also concerned about safety in the neighborhood, and doesn’t think there would be enough room for fire trucks on Eureka Avenue or Archer Street in the event of an emergency.

“It makes the most sense to go the other way,” he said. 

Scott Grieves, a carpenter and firefighter living at 24 Eureka Ave., agreed with his neighbors. 

“The area here is not big enough. It’s a safety issue, a major safety issue,” Grieves said. “I’m a fireman and I can tell you right now, there is not enough room.”

Grieves was also concerned about traffic, as well as drainage, noting the proposed development site is slightly elevated and water would likely flow down toward Eureka Avenue. 

“I’ve been here 10 years on this street,” he said. “Why do we have to suffer?”

If the Planning Board approves the subdivision plan, the project moves into the next phase and goes before the Zoning Board of Appeals. Grieves said he is pessimistic residents can do anything to influence the project at this point. 

“When things like this happen, they win… We don’t have the money to fight it,” Grieves said. 

Victor Dubuque, at 20 Eureka Ave., said he is “on the fence” about the project, but was concerned the land would be “overdeveloped.”

The process of putting a housing facility in the area has been ongoing since 2012. In 2013, Robert Dandreo of Vaughan Place, a small road next to Foster Road, filed a lawsuit claiming the facility as originally proposed would negatively affect water and sewer pipes connected to his home, as well as congest traffic. 

As a result of the lawsuit, the Zoning Board of Appeals gave developers a one-year extension last May to plan a new, different main entrance to the facility. 

The Planning Board reconvenes March 9 at 7 p.m. at Swampscott High School.

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